As the great Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hans said “UNDERSTANDING IS LOVE’S OTHER NAME. IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU CANT LOVE.”
Understanding others is “empathy”. In fact it is the top of the list when defining understanding.
The skill or “Art” of understanding is something many people do not possess.
People who are understanding of others can pick up emotional cues from others just by picking up on their body language. These people are good at listening too. They can pick up on someone’s tone of voice and realize what that someone is trying to communicate.
It’s interesting to note that during most conversations people are not listening to understand the other person, but more so, to find and have a verbal answer. If we all took the time to listen….to really listen, we would all be a lot more understanding of others and their needs.
Empathy is the ability to see something as another sees it. You are able to understand what your partner, friend, parent or whoever you are conversing with, is feeling about something in that moment. This empathy allows you to see why someone says or does what they do.
In my case, with my disability becoming more pronounced and my abilities to perform regular everyday things becoming less and less…our household needs lots of understanding and lots of good communication skills. Otherwise one of us will take offence to the others misunderstanding or misreading of our needs.
According to the experts, empathy contains three aspects.
- You need to empathize with yourself before you can understand others emotions. Acceptance and understanding of your own feelings is essential to a healthy and harmonious existence with others.
- being “thoughtful” in all dealings with others will exercise your empathy muscle
- when you know someone well, you get a better understanding of what they are thinking or feeling and it becomes easier for nonverbal communication. That is a practice in our house. My sweetie knows when I’m frustrated and I can tell when he is too.
Many an argument is a breeding ground for discontent. Most arguments with those closest to us are 90% driven by misunderstandings and the “argument” has no real basis other than the simple misreading of the original message. If we would just take the time to see both sides of the story we would avoid lots of discontent.
The world is full of people….no two are alike. We all have different personalities, thoughts, perspectives, emotions, etc. But the bottom line with every human is we want the same things in life….happiness, love, peace and purpose.
We are all guilty of believing that our way is the right way. We tend to try and convince others that our path is the correct one and that theirs is not the right one. We don’t accept the other points of view and dig our heels in that our view is IT.
It’s a vicious cycle when you exercise this diehard attitude. It leads to demeaning the other person, causing defensive posturing, arguing….further posturing, misunderstanding, arguments and more discontent.
All of us must learn to UNDERSTAND each other and arrive at a place of shared contentment. To do this we must master the following:
- Tolerance – learning to accept another’s quirks is a form of understanding. We aren’t all on the same page. We all have valid reasons why we do what we do. By allowing others to be happy with their view puts you on the path to understanding that person as the individual they are.
- Acceptance – once you have accepted and are able to live in concert with another, their quirks seem less bothersome and more meaningful.
- Respect – we all have beliefs we hold on to in life that may seem absolutely absurd to others. If we respect the other person then we are able to look past their quirks and love them the way they are.
- Appreciation – if your partner or person you care about gets joy from something you don’t necessarily find that interesting, so be it, as long as it’s not self-destructive or harmful to others. But your acceptance of their quirks is an appreciation for this person’s beliefs and values which in turn, brings joy and happiness into your relationship with this particular person.
Bottom line: when we can appreciate others for who they are and not who we want them to be, then we finally UNDERSTAND.
By practicing tolerance, acceptance, respect and appreciation your relationships will thrive.